Friday, January 4, 2013

Big Times in the Big Easy

I just got back from a family trip to New Orleans to witness the greatest victory in the history of Louisville football over Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Following are the impressions of a first-time visitor to the Big Easy on the city and the game.
  • Food, food and more food. We toured New Orleans on our stomachs from shrimp creole to gumbo to Pepto. A little more on that later.
  • When you’re traveling to New Orleans for the first time, always seek the advice of a native, such as my good friend Dave Kemmerly. Dave advised us to stay in the Hilton Riverside, right in the middle of everything. He was right. Unfortunately, it also turned out to be the official hotel of the Florida team, band, cheerleaders, parents, fans, etc. The hotel bellman spied our University of Louisville attire as he took us to our room and said, “Y’all trouble makers, aren’t you?” In a city run amok with Cardinal fans by everyone’s account, we managed to spend a great deal of our time behind enemy lines.
  • Although it sounds like a designer drug, Zydeco is actually a kind of Creole music that features the accordion. And when you feature the accordion, “The Chicken Dance” can’t be far behind, as we found out at Mulate’s.
  •  As mentioned earlier, I inadvertently spent a lot of time with Florida fans, including a mile-long walk from the Superdome after U of L’s victory. I wasn’t looking forward to that one, but Gator fans were all class. They frequently congratulated us on the victory and praised U of L quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
  • Not that I blame them, but the UF players were not nearly as collegial after the loss. My wife used one word to describe them: “seething.” Better them than me.
  • Although primarily known for its French influences, New Orleans is a melting pot for a lot of different cultures, including Italian. We picked up a famous muffaletta sandwich at the Central Grocery, which felt like the meat market in the Sopranos. The sandwich was terrific, even if they may have been smuggling Zydeco from the back.
  • I don’t know exactly how much powdered sugar they pour on the beignets at CafĂ© DuMonde, but I’m betting it arrives on Decatur Street in cement trucks. I wore more on my sweatshirt than I ate. But believe me, I’m not complaining.
  • One of my stated goals in New Orleans was to pick up an authentic voodoo doll. After spending a little time in one of those shops, I can tell you that voodoo is something that sounds better in theory than in practice. I found the black arts just aren’t for me. Plus, most of my enemies have been smitten already anyway.
That’s our trip to New Orleans in a nutshell: a great victory, a friendly rival, delicious food from breakfast through dinner, and a safe return without a curse or Zydeco addiction.

No comments: